Happy Halloween week, folks. In the spirit of all things ghostly, ghastly and gross, this week we'll be talking about what to expect when a renter dies during the course of their apartment lease, from both a neighbor's and a landlord's perspective. Fair warning: this article is not for the squeamish or those who have just eaten. If this describes you, consider revisiting one of our articles from previous Halloweens, such as our list of the top 10 horror movies set in apartments, or or guide to Trick or Treat Alternatives for Chicago Renters. Continue reading Dead Tenants: A Post-Mortem Post-Mortem
Marta and James Chandler grew up with their mother Simone in Carbonville, a neighborhood on the west side of a big city in the US. Candles were the lighting source of choice in Carbonville. Every night as Marta walked home from school she could see candle after candle in the windows of her neighbors, lighting her way back to her own candlelit home.
Candles had their drawbacks. They were temporary and fragile. They slowly vanished as they were used. The slightest gust of wind or clumsy handling would extinguish them. Sometimes someone would get a little crazy and knock over a candle, setting a whole building on fire. If you didn't know how to light them properly you could burn yourself. Outsiders thought the Carbonville residents to be a bit peculiar. "Always setting their houses on fire. Such a pity." Continue reading On Candles and Spotlights: A Parable of Real Estate
A few years ago I heard tell of a wealthy family from India who purchased real estate in a West Loop loft building. There were about five separate multi-generational family clusters all living together. They jointly purchased an entire floor of the building - five or six separate condominiums - and combined them into a single living space. The American-born Realtor who told me of the deal did so with a tone of "can you believe those crazy immigrants would do something like that?" Buried in this attitude, not far below the surface, is an inherent problem between modern US residential building practices and the cultural traditions of the people who live in them.
A lot of news ink has been spilled lately about new construction of apartment buildings in downtown Chicago after a lengthy slow period. In reaction to these stories I see comments about the tiny size of the apartments, the "Transit-oriented design", and how no average renter will be able to afford this new luxury housing. "Tiny boxes very high up" is how a friend of mine describes them. When you compare these new buildings with the vintage walk-ups that cover the city outskirts you can see the results of a clear shift in American attitudes towards outsiders and towards themselves. Continue reading The Growing Cultural Disconnect in Apartment Architecture
When I worked as an agent I frequently met with renters who were looking for apartments way too far in advance of their move date. They would go out on tours with me and the landlords' agents would invariably be disappointed when they heard how long they would have to wati for my clients to move in. The "sweet spot" for scheduling your apartment search is different depending on the time of year, your source of payment and whether or not you're working with an agent. It's important to time things so that you make the right impression on the landlord, get to see the most apartments possible, and not get swallowed up by the crowd.
Today we're going to go through various apartment search start dates and discuss their associated benefits and drawbacks. As a general note, if you are using a housing voucher for your search you will want to start at least 4 weeks earlier than everyone else. This allows time for the unit to be inspected and for CHA to verify the rent rate. Continue reading When Should You Start Your Apartment Search?